Life expectancy of external hard drives varies

The life expectancy of external hard drives varies. Let's rephrase the question: "What can I do to get the longest life out of an external hard drive?"

To look at the problem from the point of view of a hardware engineer, you want minimize wear on the bearings of the spinning drive platters inside and you want to make sure that the drive does not get jolted, especially when it is powered up. A third, and possibly minor consideration is heat. The external drive casing needs to be well ventilated to keep the drive from overheating.

If you are using an external hard drive as additional storage for your desktop or laptop, make sure you power down the external drive whenever you power down the system.

If you are using an external drive only for backing up data, you want to have it powered up when in use, powered down when done, and kept in a safe place when not in use.

Always handle the drive carefully, so it won't get dropped or subjected to many Gs of force.

I have clients who have used external drives for backup for about 5 years now, and the drives still work perfectly. How long an external drive lasts depends on how well you care for it.

Personally, there are some brands of drives I avoid, due to unfavorable past experiences. And every brand of drive has its models which are absolute dogs. The drive manufacturers compete very aggressively on price, price, price, with seldom a mention of reliability predictions. I suppose I could annoy one or more drive manufacturers by saying what those brands are, but I won't.

... Ben Myers